In just a few weeks I will have the enormous pleasure to portray Romeo in Mission Theatre Company’s Romeo and Juliet!
The show is directed by Penelope Parsons-Lord and will be at the Crane Theater in Minneapolis from June 2 – 17. What excites me most about doing this show is the chance to breathe some freshness into a story we all know. We all know what “violent delights” brings at the play’s conclusion, but what I’m challenged to do as a performer, is make you completely forget that the ending is as inevitable as all that.
That is my challenge and my joy. Romeo to me is not only a young lover but the embodiment of a love we all wish we knew. Whether it’s been lost or never had, that kind of undying, passionate, over-the-moon love is so beautiful and (whether it exists or not) the idea of it is enough to make us burst with emotion. Those feelings are certainly fueling Romeo’s desires, but it’s also the very real stakes of the play that really drive it all home.
Romeo and Juliet are two characters constantly fighting for what they believe in since it seems everyone is against these two people simply being together. Their parents, the government, even the freakin’ stars. I’m simplifying, of course, but by boiling it all down to the basic “what is this about”, you really expose the absurdity those aforementioned obstacles. Why can’t people live and let live? Why can’t love just be pure and innocent? Why do people and governments feel as if they have a right to butt into other people’s private affairs?
Romeo, therefore, is a truly hopeless romantic. He is a good person, a stand-up guy who is well liked and only wants to marry the girl of his dreams and yet… he is killed, thereby causing the death of his equally innocent counterpart, Juliet. Now that is some fickle shit from ye old Fate. Nonetheless, that is life after all and the tragedy the play presents. To present a show just about two angsty teenagers who kill themselves would be absolutely unbearable to watch. No, what the play is about is why they come to the conclusion that this is the only way out. How suffocating does a situation have to become for someone to take such drastic actions? When you look at the play that way (and most plays, really) it is as compelling and riveting a story as any in the canon.
I’m so grateful to be telling this story to audiences and doing so with a truly remarkable team, both on stage and off. It may be Romeo and Juliet but they are only as good as the ensemble around them.
You think you know the story of two star-crossed lovers who took their lives… but there is so much more than the title characters; there’s something bright, attractive, and urgently relevant about this play when fearlessly performed. And that is what this production will bring to audiences. We will aim to look specifically at unending cycles of violence, at the people it affects, and that violence is NEVER self-contained; violence breeds violence. This production will be ambitious, brave, fast, funny, and relentlessly tragic.
Friday, June 2 @ 7:30pm
Saturday, June 3 @ 7:30pm
Sunday, June 4 @ 2:00pm
Monday, June 5 @ 7:30pm
Thursday, June 8 @ 7:30pm
Friday, June 9 @ 7:30pm
Saturday, June 10 @ 7:30pm
Monday, June 12 @ 7:30pm
Thursday, June 15 @ 7:30pm
Friday, June 16 @ 7:30pm
Saturday, June 17 @ 7:30 pm
Eric Balcerzak as Lord Capulet
Tyus Beeson as Tybalt
Michael Terrell Brown as Balthazar/Ensemble
Gary Danciu as Friar
Caitlin Featherstone as Ensemble/Dance Captain
Vincent Hannam as Romeo
Ashley Hovell as Benvolio
Tamara Koltes as Mercutio
Jason Kornelis as Prince/Ensemble
Bethany McHugh as Juliet
Stanzi Schalter as Friar John/Ensemble
John Stark as Paris
Anneliese Stuht as Nurse
Maggie Mae Sulentic as Ensemble/Fight Captain
Andrea Rose Tonsfeldt as Montague/Ensemble
Amy Vickroy as Lady Capulet
Penelope Parsons-Lord: Director
Ellen DeYoung: Stage Manager
Tony Stoeri: Lighting Designer
Leazah Behrens: Set Designer
Steve Herzog: Sound Designer
Penelope Parsons-Lord: Costume Designer
Krista Weiss: Assistant Costume Designer
Michael Kelley: Fight Choreographer
Andrea Rose Tonsfeldt: Hair/Makeup Designer
Turi Jystad: Assistant Stage Manager
With the turning of the calendar into November, I guess you can finally say that it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Especially if you’re in the theatre world, you’re either currently rehearsing a holiday show or determining when you can go see A Christmas Carol (I’ve got two right now – A Christmas Carole Petersen at Theatre Latte Da and A Christmas Carol at the Commonweal Theatre).
Gratefully, I am also in the first camp, although what I’m rehearsing is a little different than the familiar Dickens tale. This play is by Adam Hummel and called Snowed Inn. No, not Snowden, but Snowed_Inn. Not only is it a pun, but it’s also hilarious, telling the story of a disillusioned Hollywood screenwriter returning to his family inn in rural Minnesota on Christmas Eve, 1932. Like all good screwball comedies, of course, events quickly spire out of control when a mobster and his moll crash the party looking to run some hooch into Minneapolis. The play is a wonderful tribute to those romantic comedies of the ’30s as well as the classic gangster movies that I love so so so much!
In fact, I get to play the role of the gangster! His name is “Dutch” and he’s got his own work cut out for him; trying to keep his cool and get promoted up the ranks with no help from his dizzy dame of a girlfriend, Flossy. Although I don’t get to say any of the famous lines, I do get to wear a fantastic suit and play the part of so many of my favorite actors. Certainly James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson, but I’d throw in George Raft, Humphrey Bogart and Paul Muni as well.
With that said, you can bet in addition to learning my part, I’ve taken this as a perfect opportunity to reacquaint myself with those pictures. Back in high school I went through a phase and now own about a dozen of them. Classics like The Public Enemy, Little Caesar, White Heat, Angels with Dirty Faces, The Petrified Forest, and Each Dawn I Die. Whew, even the titles are enough to set your imagination running!
All that is to say, of course, that I’m really stoked about this one and want to share it with as many people as possible. It’s directed by Ben Thietje and is at DalekoArts in New Prague, Minnesota. It’s really not that far (this is where I did Wait Until Dark last year) and with a cast of goofballs having the kind of fun we are, it’s definitely worth it. With such a quirky mix of holiday cheer, fun and thrills how can you resist?
After failed screenwriter Archie Ježek leaves the glitz and glamour of 1930s Hollywood to return to the small, Minnesota town where he grew up to run the family hotel, his dreams of a quiet, steady Midwestern life quickly devolve to madcap holiday hijinks and mayhem. Featuring a cast of zany characters and silver screen slapstick, Snowed Inn is a family-friendly Christmas card celebrating your favorite classic films and the nostalgia of holidays past.
It’s another DalekoArts original holiday show!
DalekoArts recommends SNOWED INN for ages 13 and up.
Susan J Gerver
Jane Ryan (sets)
Kurt Jung (lights)
Elin Anderson (costumes)
Abbee Warmboe (props/scenic painter)*
Ben Thietje (sound)*
Janice Geis (stage manager)
Trevor Muller-Hegel (technical director)
*denotes company member
Happy Opening to the cast and crew of Clybourne Park at Yellow Tree Theatre!
This was an opportunity that came my way last summer in the midst of moving to Minneapolis and in the thick of Fringe and The Matchmaker (where I first worked with the wondrous Craig Johnson and Dan Hopman). I remember feeling like it was going to take a million years to get to February, but of course, the year went faster than I thought it would and here I am playing the role of “Kenneth”. I won’t say too much about the part, but it involves a very poignant scene in the play about a young man, a vet from Korea, who never got any breaks upon returning home and has run out of options.
The play itself is perfect in almost every way. I first read it in college when it was fresh off its 2011 Pulitzer Prize and 2012 Tony for Best Play and instantly falling in love with it. Then when I was in New York for the summer of 2012, I was able to catch the show on its original Broadway run (closing weekend no less!)
Related to the events of A Raisin in the Sun, Clybourne Park deftly navigates from sobering drama to gut-busting comedy quickly and un-apologetically. It deals with race and gentrification in ways that leaves no one group spared from a not very PC joke, comment or observation. It is with little surprise then that I say this play is not for those without a sense of humor, but then again, it’s also for those who truly want to engage in a serous conversation about everyday race relations; not about riots and corrupt police, but about the way we handle ourselves in day-to-day interactions with those who are “different” from us. Indeed, these are very powerful subjects that are made easier to swallow by the comfort of laughter.
Clybourne Park runs now until March 6th and I would encourage anybody and everybody to see it! The already incredible script is made even stronger by the cast who never lets you go until the thrilling conclusion. Here’s some more specific info:
I am VERY pleased to finally announce that I will be making my Twin Cities theatre debut this July in Thornton Wilder’s classic, THE MATCHMAKER, from Girl Friday Productions! I will be playing the role of Barnaby Tucker in a large and talented cast, headed by Craig Johnson our director.
Following my year in Lanesboro at the Commonweal Theatre, this is the next step in my career as I make a permanent move to Minneapolis- St. Paul to pursue theatre as an actor, director and writer. I cannot express enough just how pleased I am to be a part of this show- and based on our first read through, it promises to be a hell of a show at that.
Come one, come all to THE MATCHMAKER this summer in the Twin Cities!
For more info, click here: http://www.girlfridayproductions.org/
Girl Friday Productions presents The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder
Because adventure should be shared!
Directed by Craig Johnson
July 9-26, 2015
Playing on the new Andy Boss Thrust Stage at Park Square Theatre.
“When wealthy merchant Horace Vandergelder engages the services of legendary matchmaker Dolly Levi, he gets much more than he bargained for. Under Dolly’s clever guidance, a swirl of innocent clerks, spirited millineresses, snooty waiters and other eccentric characters become delightfully entangled in 19th century New York. Thornton Wilder’s hilarious farce about love, money and adventure features the signature humanity, wit and relevance of one of America’s greatest playwrights. A tonic for our troubled times, The Matchmaker celebrates the spirit of generosity and living life to the fullest.”